Wakefield’s Dan Bradbury spent Christmas at home in Yorkshire and had time to reflect on a very successful first three terms of a four-year golf scholarship in the USA.
In the five collegiate events he has played so far, he has won one and not finished outside of the top 10 and helped his Lincoln Memorial University team - known as the Railsplitters - reach the National Second Division Finals for the first time in its history.
In addition to his tournament win in the Tennessee River Rumble, he was also named the South Atlantic Conference Men’s Golf Freshman of the Year. Bradbury also got onto the Conference second team, having placed in the top 10 in its tournaments, and nationally finished inside the top 75.
Furthermore, he was named in the All American Freshman team, based on placing among the top five freshmen at the National finals tournament.
He turned down some bigger schools and that decision looks to have paid off.
“When I went over there I wasn’t sure I would make the team as there’s a squad of 12 and only five get to play in the events but I qualified fourth and after playing three this year I will be moving up to number two behind our captain, and best player, Sam Broadhurst when the season starts in February.
“I had offers from some of the better-known schools and nearly went to the University of Iowa, but I didn’t fancy going to a school with 30,000 students and not getting to know anyone, and LMU has been great for me and I feel that I definitely made the right choice. I can’t complain about anything. It has been brilliant so far.”
Broadhurst is from Nuneaton and Bradbury admits he’s lucky to have such a good player to compete with and against. “He’s almost become a readymade replacement for George Heath from here at Wakefield who is also at college in the States now.
“George and I used to play against each other every day and the level of competitiveness really helped us both improve dramatically," added Bradbury who captured the Leeds scratch title during his last visit home in the Summer.
He has been equally impressive in the classroom as he pursues a Business Management degree but admits he’s there for the golf and to gain as much experience as he can with a future in professional golf as his end game.
And he is quick to praise Matt Fitzpatrick for the advice he received from the five-time European Tour winner whilst attending a Yorkshire Boys U-16 coaching session at Sandburn Hall.
Fitzpatrick famously quit Northwestern University after one term to turn pro but passed on invaluable advice to Bradbury. “I sought him out to ask him about college life in the USA and he told me that there are three things you can do on a golf scholarship in America; study, play or enjoy life but there are only two you can focus on and if you try to balance all three it just doesn’t work. What he said is so true.”
LMU’s location in the sleepy town of Harrogate in Tennessee provides few distractions. “Pretty much half of the population of the area is made up of students or people who work at LMU and it’s is very quiet with a couple of petrol station and a shop. But the nearest big town (ironically named Middlesbrough) is only 10 minutes away and has everything we need in terms of stores and restaurants. “
HE CONFESSES that during long periods away from the buzz of competing he can get a little homesick but there’s plenty of banter with the rest of the squad and mainly about soccer. Bradbury is an avid Leeds United fan and his roomie Luke Haries from Tenby supports Liverpool so both have had plenty to cheer about recently.
“Sam supports Manchester United and two of the other lads in the squad are Spurs and Fulham fans and it drives our coach Travis Muncy mad when we are travelling to events and spend most of the time the mickey out of each other’s teams. I guess that’s something unique to us as you don’t see it happen over there with the same level of humour.”
But it’s all about the golf and the plus 3 handicapper has seen positive improvements during his short time in the USA. “I have definitely made steps forward in my game,” he said. “I feel like my whole mentality has changed.
“When I was playing over here in the summer before I went to college if I got to a couple under par I would be thinking, ‘let’s just keep it here, let’s just keep it under par, that’s good’. “Now if I get two under, I want to get to three, and if I get to three, I want to get to four or five.
“The thing is in the events over there if you are not going low then someone else is.
“I shot four under in Miami and I was tied for the lead after the first round, but there were about 15 other people under par. I think I shot one over in the second round and I dropped to something like 16th place.
“I think that the positive mentality has also helped me finish off rounds better because before if I was two under I would maybe finish with a couple of bogeys because I was just trying to get it in, to get to the clubhouse in a couple under, whereas now I’m thinking, ‘I’ve got to three, let’s get to four’. “You might sometimes make a bogey as a result, but you might also make another birdie or two.”
He will bring his new found winning attitude back to our shores in May for an assault on the amateur circuit and will play six events including the Amateur championship along with the English and Irish.